Saturday, June 17, 2006

Look Homeward

Today I realized a dream I've had since my first year of Latin, and wandered around the ruins of Ostia, which served as the port for ancient Rome. It surpassed my expectations, so I'm not going to say much about it because when I get all elegiac it makes me gag, and I expect does the same for you.

I'll be sorry to say ciao to the Minerva II, but the ship's time has run out anyhow. Carnival has bought it, and the likely outcome is that Swan Hellenic, after 100+ years in operation, will cease to exist. The Minerva II is going to be gutted, the paneled and frescoed library ripped out, and it and the Wheeler Bar (dedicated to Sir Mortimer Wheeler, one of the founders) will become a casino. Because of course what the world needs is one more cheesy cruise ship full of white trash playing slot machines.

I'm sorry, that sounded snotty, didn't it? Well, for once I don't care if it is. It's been awfully nice to sail around in a boat that came equipped with the Oxford English Dictionary (the full set), that showed documentaries about the Aegean as we sailed over it, the offered fantastic lectures by articulate experts, and that was populated by people who cared where the hell they were sailing to.

Enough, enough. Where was I?

So this morning was Ostia, and this afternoon was Tarquinia. In Tarquinia the chief attraction were painted Etruscan tombs, followed by a ramble around the "modern" town which is mostly two or three centuries old. I was wrapping things up and about to put the camera away when I decided to take one more shot up a winding street that was especially well-lit by the setting sun.

While I was framing the view, something close by snagged my auto-focus for a minute. I realized with shock that it was a rack of...yarn.

I hadn't seen a yarn shop anywhere during the whole trip, and now I'd stumbled over one in the last ten minutes of the last excursion on the last day.

Upon investigation, it turned out to be not only a yarn shop, but a combination yarn/lingerie shop. They arrange these things so well in Italy. Guys, you think it's tough in America going into a yarn shop? Try it when the front window looks like a clearance sale at Victoria's Secret.

The glamorous saleswoman was an utter doll and happily I remembered the words for "pure wool" because they had an awful lot of acrylic going on. She understood and directed me to this pile of lovely stuff in neato colors. I left with enough DK weight Italian yarn, in the same red-brown used in the Etruscan tombs, to make myself a sweater. I won't tell you how little I paid, because it would just piss you off.

A good ending to a good trip. Tomorrow, by way of punishment, I have to deal with the airport in Frankfurt. For that, if past experience is any indication, I'll need one of the words in my meagre German vocabulary: scheisse.

(I'm not sure I spelled that right, but I do know how to pronounce it.)

Next report will appear as jet lag permits.


LaurieM said...

I just can't tell who the real Franklin is anymore. It's like the Parkay commercial where the tub keeps saying "butter".

That was such a stupid series of commercials.

Anonymous said...

Please, please! Hurt us! Tell us how much the yarn was! Tell us - how many skeins, how many yards, how much total and how much per yard! Make it as agonizing as possible!!! We beg of you!

Mel said...

Sehr gut, except that Scheiße, as a noun, is always capitalized.

The yarn/lingerie thing sounds very Italian - nothing you can't make better by throwing sex into the mix. I laughed when I saw that their version of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire features scantily clad go-go dancers. It wouldn't have surprised me after that if they'd had go-go dancers on the evening news.

FiberQat said...

As you return from the ancient lands to the hells of modernity, hug your treasure close to you and smile a gleeful smile every time (and an occasional muwahahahaha) someone you don't want to talk to walks by. Then they'll think you're just plain weird and leave you alone. "Who was that?" "Some weirdo with a bunch of yarn." It may get you a good seat on the plane.

Happy flying!
(leaving Sunday for fiber adventures in Hawaii)

Roggey said...

Tearing out a library?! My Bibliovixen self weeps at such blasphemy.

Safe travels!

Anonymous said...

Rather enjoyed the Wolverines and their stories.

How is Dolores by the way?

Linda said...


If your jet-lag is mild, perhaps you can spare a few words about whether you successfully carried knitting needles through the Frankfurt airport security checkpoints and onto the flight home to Chicago. I'm heading through Frankfurt on my way to India next month and am hoping that the vague guidelines in the EU security standards will allow for me to carry on knitting needles.

I'm also still trying to track down "official" guidelines on what is allowed on flights originating from India *sigh*...being a die-hard knitter and a traveler can be so difficult!

Christina said...

Oy, Franklin- a few more kilometres outside of Ostia and you would've stumbled upon Seneca's tomb along Via Appia Antica. Lovely pile of bricks, it is.

Dana S. Whitney said...

Perhaps there is some Dobos Torte in your future at the airport. I'm glad Mel remembered the Scheisse capitalization (I can't find the "SS" key on my computer.... ). Perhaps I can say Froliche Fahrt!

Elemmaciltur said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Elemmaciltur said...

hehehe, you got that German world right...although I'm not sure about the spelling anymore with all these reforms around here. And Mel is's supposed to be capitlised.

Anonymous said...

I'm one person who wouldn't be at all surprised by your feelings in Ostia. I'm a Latin teacher who was able to go for the first time last year. My students said I looked like a kid at Christmas. :) - Danielle

Aidan said...

Entschuldigen Sie mir, Mel: I've always though of s**t as a verb, rather than a noun. So I guess it would be scheiß, nicht wahr?

Either way, Franklin made a grammar error and must be punished -- I suggest a term of 16 hours of Wagner operas. That should teach him a lesson.

Willkommenes Haus, kleiner Kuchen. Was holten Sie mir?

Sweet Camden Lass said...

Ostia Antica: please, please, please, please, pretty please with cherries on the top (and probably a martini with a maraschion cherry on the side to placate Dolores) please can we have pictures of Ostia Antica?

The only other place that comes close is Herculaneum. Pompeii got ripped out by too many Victorians.


Anonymous said...

That's too sad that Swann Hellenic will cease to be. One of our dreams was to do back-to-back Black Sea cruises; unfortunately the cost boggles the mind.

My parents had some great stories about their trips, including a meeting with an elderly clergyman and his wife who knew my aunt. He hadn't quite hoisted in that he was talking to her sister and said cheerfully, "Oh, yes, Valentine V-J; she's quite mad, isn't she," while his wife was making frantic faces at him. Since my parents agreed with this assessment, no feelings were hurt.

FemiKnitMafia said...

One of the few things I remember from 3 years of high school German - Scheissekopf. S**thead. Enjoy.

dpaste said...

Can't wait for your return, even though I still haven't met you. Looking forward to pictures soon!

Abby said...

Thank God the other post is gone. I was afraid that was Franklin, but it didn't sound like him. What was that about the flight attendant? As a fan of the C & Franklin relationship, I was aghast at the possibility of non-fidelity. Call me old-fashioned, but there you go. Yeah for C and Franklin!